There’s a place downtown where veggie-lovers go to be converted to meat again. It’s called Burger Bar, and it’s aptly located smack in the middle of one of Montreal’s most prolific veins.
The music, verging on ambient and jazzy, is punctuated by the occasional, and certainly most-welcomed, ‘90s hip-hop tracks, and when
you walk in, you can’t help but ask what the trophy perched on the bar is all about. They won “Best Burger in Montreal” for their Hangover burger at this summer’s Burger Week competition.
I’m familiar with sipping mojitos on their sunny terrace in July, inhaling second-hand cigarette smoke and people watching. Judging by my experience at Burger Bar this fall, they’ve managed to maintain that cool, humble vibe year-round.
The worst part about BYOB (building your own burger), is that sometimes you’re not creative enough to maximize the grandiose-factor of what your burger has the potential to be. Not to worry, the Burger Bar masterminds have you covered with a variety of combinations and a price range between $11 and $25.
The sandwich menu boasts a lovely variety of designer proteins from seared salmon to pulled pork, with a portobello sandwich as the go-to option for vegans. While some of you may be tempted to order a salad or sandwich, I can guarantee you’ll be overwhelmed with regret at the sight of a burger.
Now onto the main event. All burgers come with a side salad, fries or coleslaw; I urge you to get the coleslaw. I couldn’t quite put my fork on what made its flavour so distinct.
In an attempt to retain a morsel of my former herbivore identity, I ordered the Baba burger, because you can’t go wrong with a CN Tower-high pile of grilled veggies stacked on a beef patty, doused in baba ghanoush, balsamic reduction, and garlic mayo. My dining partner took great pleasure in his Wild Mushroom burger with sautéed wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, arugula, and roasted garlic mayonnaise, a combo that seemed to be a favourite among the customers.
The man next to me was enjoying his breaded cheese sticks with spicy salsa so much, he had trouble articulating his words. Judging by his moans accompanied by widened eyes and a string of “Wow!”s, I can assume he enjoyed himself.
Also, I would just like to warn you that most, if not all, the burgers are impossible to bite into without tearing a ligament in your face, making eating with grace almost inexecutable. Manager Ben Serapins was my knight in shining armour, coming to my rescue with extra napkins without even having to ask because, let’s be honest, no one wants to make eye contact when you’ve got a keg-full of condiments on your face.
The Deconstructed S’more exemplified the marriage between architecture and cooking. Imagine a three-tiered edifice in a cute little cup starting with a crumbled graham cracker foundation, topped with a moist and barely-baked brownie, and held together by a cloud of roasted marshmallows. Poetry to my ears.
There’s a real sense of humour in the execution of many of the plates. The Poutine burger looks like something that wouldn’t actually be sold commercially, but rather behind glass walls at a museum. It can compete with something on Epic Meal Time – it is that intimidating. The Hangover burger is an ode to the Sunday morning crowd, and its array of bacon, eggs and cheese stacked on a patty.
With six beers on tap and a laundry list of cocktails and wines, you’re getting the dining and bar scene experience all in one. My Crescent Pear martini was a delicate blend of Absolut pear, mango juice and an appropriate dash of citrus. If the archetypal girlie drink doesn’t float your maraschino cherry, my drinking buddy sipped on a Dark n’ Stormy, which was a more macho blend of ginger beer and dark rum.
The combination of uber-friendly staff (but never obnoxious or in-your-face), plates that consistently exceed expectations, and an as-fine-as-casual-dining-gets vibe labels it as a real winner. Bring a date or a party of 25. You’ll end up in such a food coma afterwards, it won’t even matter who you’re with.
Burger Bar is located on 1465 Crescent St.